Controller protocols, proprietary vs open?
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  1. #1
    Tech Guru Cybertrash's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden

    Default Controller protocols, proprietary vs open?


    As I am sure most of you are aware of, different controllers use different protocols. MIDI, obviously, is the most common. HID also seems to be fairly common for jog wheels. These protocols are all standardized, anyone can use them.

    Some controllers however, use propreitary protocols. NI's S4 for example (and I believe some of the Itch controllers use something like that?).

    Now, what I was wondering, how do these proprietary protocols fare against MIDI and the likes? I hear most of them have higher resolution than MIDI/HID. Does this affect performance? For example, the resolution of pitch faders (for example, the MIDI-Only pitchfaders on my Mixtrack are awful). Is this something you should consider when in the market for a new controller, or is MIDI just fine?

  2. #2
    Tech Guru
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Seattle, WA


    MIDI is an "open" protocol - HID is not. And typically, a controller is either one or the other - not a mix.

    Also, your statement about message resolution is incorrect. One of the beauties of HID is that you (as developer) define the messaging. So it can be whatever resolution you want. Standard MIDI is typically either 7 or 14bit. But don't get things twisted - that has very little to do with the being able to obtain very high resolution messages via MIDI. When you're talking about 7 or 14bit MIDI, you're usually talking about how it pertains to an ABSOLUTE message, but remember that there is also relative messaging, and this is used most often for platters. If a higher resolution is desired for a fader, there are plenty of ways to get that done. The problem is that the software developers need to write in support for that functionality. Right now, support for 14bit messaging is spotty, and not always working correctly when it IS supported.

    for the record, I think HID and proprietary protocols are a great way for developers to control the environment their products run in, but not so great for end users that might want to re-purpose their controllers.

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